Russia/Uzbekistan politics: Quick View – Countries hold first military drills since 2005

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Economist Intelligence Unit
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International Relations, Politics, News Analysis, Forecast
Political Geography
Russia, Uzbekistan


From October 3rd-7th Russian and Uzbek military forces held joint exercises in the Jizzakh region in central Uzbekistan. The military drills are the first between the two countries since 2005.


The five-day drills, which included the Russian mountain rifle brigade deployed in the republic of Tuva in Russia and Uzbek forces, involved military exercises aimed at improving abilities to eliminate terror threats as well as developing capabilities in carrying out military operations in mountainous terrain. The military drills were held on Russia's request.

The military exercises between Russian and Uzbek military forces are another sign of the tremendous change that has been brought about in Uzbekistan since Shavkat Mirziyoyev ascended to the presidency in a flawed vote in December 2016 after the death of the previous president, Islam Karimov, in September 2016. In 2005 Uzbekistan had pivoted towards Russia after throwing out the US military from Uzbekistan. However, in recent years, under Mr Karimov, security partnerships between Uzbekistan and Russia had cooled considerably after Uzbekistan left the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a Russia-led military alliance developed on the lines of NATO.

The drills in Jizzakh are another sign that security relations between Russia and Uzbekistan are likely to improve considerably over the forecast period. Russia is likely to seek to bring Uzbekistan back into the fold of the CSTO, although Uzbekistan is already a member of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation-a Eurasian political, economic and security organisation that also includes China and Russia. It is likely that, in an effort to strike a balance between the major powers, Uzbekistan will hold off on renewing its CSTO membership. One of the priorities for Mr Mirziyoyev at the moment is to secure investment in the Uzbek economy, and he is unlikely to jeopardise any economic partnerships with Western countries by pivoting too closely to Russia.

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